Dr. Angela Fusaro MD, MBA
Large telemedicine companies that have partnered with the major insurance providers are being overwhelmed as more Americans utilize their services during the SARS-CoV-2 virus outbreak. Patients screening for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) symptoms have created backlogs and technology hurdles for many of the larger providers. This surge is due in part to Medicare expanding telehealth coverage, allowing beneficiaries to seek care at home, hopefully slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Experts and analysts have already begun to note that telemedicine services can relieve the stress in the American emergency care system that can prove incredibly dangerous for those patients with the worst symptoms. Telemedicine provides instant access to a physician’s care without clogging waiting rooms. By conducting screenings at home, telemedicine firms help both the emergency system and the enforcement of the crucial social distancing protocols needed during this pandemic.
However, with this surge in telemedicine utilization, wait times are longer. A patient would have waited 90 minutes for a consultation with Doctors on Demand yesterday. Some insurance providers require their patients to use only certain telemedicine companies. In this time of crisis, insurers MUST open up access for their customers to use telemedicine services offered by ANY available telehealth providers. Large telemedicine providers NEED to send excess patients to smaller telehealth companies. With the infection rate in the US accelerating, this is a time of crisis. Telemedicine companies can work together to shoulder the load and ensure Americans get screened quickly and efficiently and are then recommended for SARS-CoV-2 testing if warranted.
By standing together and ensuring Americans get the screenings they need, ALL telehealth providers will gain the benefits of the trust of the American people and the reputation of service during this emergency. Divided, technology platforms will fail and major providers’ backlogs will increase while smaller providers sit with idle capacity.
Let’s work together to fill gaps and deliver the services America needs, together.
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